Harry Maguire is set to be given a place in the starting line-up for England’s UEFA Nations League clash with Italy on Friday night.
The Three Lions travel to the San Siro for a difficult test against their final winners at Euro 2020, hoping to take sweet revenge, a competition that will be broadcast live on talkSPORT from 7pm.
For Maguire it is clear that there is something to prove.
The 29-year-old has been criticized for his lack of form for Manchester United in recent months, which saw him lose his place in Erik ten Hag’s side after they conceded six goals in two games against Brighton and Brentford.
Maguire is looking for a way back into United and England plans and according to skipper Harry Kane there is no doubt the defender has the mentality to overcome his current predicament.
Speaking to talkSPORT’s Faye Carruthers, Kane said: “I get on really well with Harry. I think a lot of that criticism was probably a little unfair.
“With Manchester United not doing so well he has taken the brunt of it, but he also knows his performances for Manchester United have probably not been as good as he would have liked and he knows he wants to try and do that to improve.
“From an English point of view I think he’s been fantastic for us for many years since the 2018 World Cup. He played a big part in reaching the semi-finals and final at the Euros.
“He’s a good lad, he’s got a strong head on his shoulders and he knows he just has to keep working hard to fight his way back into the Manchester United side and whenever he’s here he does plays or not, he’ll do his best to impress the team.”
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Southgate was also quizzed about Maguire’s situation and said he spoke to the player no differently than he did to any other member of the squad.
Southgate told talkSPORT: “I think he knows what we think of him.
“I don’t speak to him any differently than to any other player. I try to catch up one on one with all players, whether outside of camp or during camp.
“We’re focused on how we’re playing here and how we need to prepare for the game that he’s in discussions about just like everyone else.
“Of course he wants to play more, but his focus is good. He knows he has to train well every day and wait for his opportunity and I’m sure he will take it if the opportunity arises for his club.”
Southgate added in his press conference that while it’s not ideal for Maguire not to get playing time at United, he retains full confidence in the player.
When asked if he was showing too much faith in Maguire, Southgate replied: “Whatever reputation I have, I’ll put it there.
“You always have to trust his judgment and we think he’s an important player.
“If we thought there were experienced players willing to come in and play at a level above him there would be a different consideration and in some positions there would be a different level of competition that way.
“He is our most dominant mid-air defender. He and John (Stones) are really amazing with the ball – how much pressure they’ve taken for the team in tournaments we’ve been in because we don’t always have that central midfielder who can move the game forward.
“It means our centre-backs have a lot more pressure to use the ball well and these two are as good as anyone in world football.”